Connecting community service to academics
Students and staff remain committed to helping others in the community and beyond through service projects throughout the year. Principal Bick said all of the school's service projects have a connection to academics and build on student skills so that they support the learning process. A large service project the school worked on recently involved raising money for the American Red Cross' relief efforts in Haiti. Fifth-graders established a Help Haiti Council, made up of a representative from each fifth-grade classroom. Using their leadership skills, the group coordinated a school-wide penny drive, as well as two Hats for Haiti days. These fund raising efforts tied into the areas of social studies and math as students in all grades learned about Haiti and its citizens and tracked the amount of money collected.
This March, music students will be helping the community when they practice their instruments by participating in the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra's Practice Marathon. Students will receive pledges from family and friends for each half hour they practice. As they work at honing their musical skills, students have a chance to win the school a free performance from a Syracuse Symphony ensemble. Last year students won the school a performance due to their diligent practicing.
The school's PTA and parent volunteers remain active in supporting students and school activities. Parents often donate their time during the school day to tutor students and read with them. The PTA coordinates and sponsors many activities that enrich the learning process at Van Buren including the Parents as Reading Partners (PARP) program, after school craft workshops and special guests. In January, the PTA sponsored a visit by illustrator James Ransome to connect art to writing.